Old Mill defensive back Marcus Hicks said it all starts with a mindset.
“Defensively, we just have an attitude that we’re not going to let anybody score on us,” he said. “We take it upon ourselves to shut teams out and limit points, if they score any at all.”
That attitude has served No. 9 Old Mill well so far this month. After edging four tough teams to start their season, the unbeaten Patriots (7-0) have outscored their past three opponents 119-7.
They’ve also pitched two consecutive shutouts, including a 50-0 win over Glen Burnie (1-6) on Thursday night in which they allowed 126 total yards.
“Overall, we just have a really fast defense,” Old Mill Coach Chad McCormick said. “Our linebackers are flying around. The defensive line, there’s a few guys rotating in there. Honestly we’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of experience, and all that stuff is coming together.”
It all starts in the secondary, where the Patriots have three seniors serving as the last line of defense in their 3-5-3 defensive scheme. Rakeem Owens, Josh Piper and Hicks shared the defensive backfield last year and also competed together in a seven-on-seven tournament during the offseason.
“We have great chemistry back there, and we just communicate very well,” said Hicks, who has received offers from Monmouth, Fordham and Campbell. “We just have a feel for what one another’s going to do.”
Outside linebacker Noah Fitzgerald has also emerged a big-time playmaker in recent weeks, McCormick said. The senior had two sacks Thursday night and is also among the area’s leaders with three interceptions this season.
After opening the fall against three current one-loss teams, Old Mill’s defense will only face one team above .500 until the playoffs.
“I think we’ve just got to stay focused,” he said. “I don’t know how that schedule will affect us. In the end, we’ve just got to make sure that we take care of business.”
With games against Broadneck (6-1) and Arundel (6-1) on the horizon, No. 11 Meade is rounding into form at the perfect time. Coach Rich Holzer said that his team played one of its best all-around games of the season Thursday night in a 45-6 win over Annapolis.
Quarterback DJ Pate has made a noticeable difference since taking over for Marcus Smith, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury. The 6-foot senior completed 11 of his 16 passes for 124 yards on Thursday night and scored two touchdowns, one in the air and one on the ground.
After starting at North County last season, Pate has brought a heightened sense of efficiency to Meade’s offense over the past few weeks. Holzer said the Mustangs (6-1) have only punted once in their past three games.